Indian athlete and a medalist in the paralympic games, Deepa Malik joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation in its special segment called NewsX A-List.

Addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Deepa said, “By the grace of God, I have always been used to lockdowns. I faced my first lockdown when I was a five year old and was in a hospital, literally admitted for a year at a go as a young little girl, in an era when there were no laptops, i-pads, Netflix or mobile phones. That was one and second, my daughter had an accident as a very young child and she got Hemiplegia paralysis on one side, so with her, I had to be grounded.”

Deepa’s own paralysis in 1999 left her bed-ridden for two years and for two years, she was not even made to sit because she had to go through major surgeries in her spine. “With urine bags and everything around me, all I could see was the ceiling, I was not even made to turn around, just to change diapers. So mentally I have been prepared for a lockdown or being a social recluse,” said Deepa.

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Deepa went on to say, “Being a sportswoman, every time you are getting ready to win a medal for 130 crore Indians, you have to go under a lockdown, you have to eat very consciously, you have to work towards your immunity,  you have to exercise, you have to do your meditation because the focus is important in winning a big medal and then, you are under such a strict regime that you have no time to socialize. So for me, the lockdown has not been a very unprecedented situation in a way of mental stress, but of course, Covid was new, my role in Covid was very new because in February I had taken over as the president of the Paralympic Committee of India. It was a transition for me, from being an athlete to being into an administrative role. So, for me, it was a totally new learning experience.”

Talking about the impact of Covid-19 on the athletes, Malik said that India still does not have the infrastructure or the public transportation that aids the physically challenged people’s smooth movement outside their home. She said that they do not have end-to-end accessibility in most parts of the country. She addressed the problems faced by the athletes who are below the poverty line. However, looking at the positive aspect of this, Deepa said that the athletes learnt to use the video calling mobile applications during this pandemic. According to Deepa, they were able to communicate with each other more than they ever did before.

Deepa Malik has received a number of awards in the last decade for her work, some of the awards that she received include Padmashree award, Arjuna award, Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna award, Women Transforming India award etc. Deepa thinks that her entire journey was aimed at changing the mindsets.  “So when the United Nations, Niti Ayog, Prime Minister, Jury chooses me to receive an award that says ‘Women Transforming India’ award, that was very dear to me and it was received by my father and that was the day my father asked everyone to pray for me and he said that he had faith that I’ll bring everyone a medal. On 12th, I won it.”

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